Cuomo Asks Hillary to Reassure ‘Democrats Who Are Afraid’ That E-Mail Scandal ‘May Compromise You’

While questioning Hillary Clinton about her e-mail scandal and the latest court ruling at Tuesday night’s CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall, moderator Chris Cuomo invited the former secretary of state to make a “statement to Democrats who are afraid that this right, wrong, good, bad, it will not believe you in this race and may compromise you now and going forward.”

Cuomo’s inquiry was preceded by a clip from February 20's Late Show of host Stephen Colbert blasting Clinton’s answer to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley on the day before that she doesn’t “believe I ever have” lied to the American people. 

Naturally, Clinton laughed on the split-screen despite Colbert having called her out and complained: 

How can you be this bad at it? Just say no. Just say no. You're running for president of the United States. Even — even Richard Nixon knew to say, I am not a crook. He didn't say, it has always been my intention, as far as I believe, I will do the best I can not to be a crook. Will you lie is the home run of campaign questions. You just say no and touch all the bases. 

When the clip ended, Cuomo attempted to grease the wheels by mentioning that he knows she recognizes where “the universe of thought” that distrusts her both “comes from” and how “[y]ou’ve known it for a long time.” 

After summarizing in a sentence what U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s ruling entailed, Cuomo tossed this softball that’s similar to NBC’s Chuck Todd has lobbed to Clinton on two occasions (here and here):

Whatever the details of this latest case, it's what they call the drip, drip theory of this. It doesn't go away. What is your statement to Democrats who are afraid that this right, wrong, good, bad, it will not believe you in this race and may compromise you now and going forward? 

Clinton immediately snapped that “there’s just no basis” for it and despite being “in the public arena for 25 years,” she lamented of being “the subject of a lot of ongoing attacks and misinformation and all the rest of it, but I can only tell you what the facts are and, you know, the facts are that every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it's proved to be nothing.”

She went onto to trumpet her belief that there’s been no one who’s ever served in a presidential candidate and been more “transparent or open” than she has:

Here, I have turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails. Nobody in any cabinet position has ever been as transparent or open. I know there are, you know, challenges about what the State Department did or didn't do. That’ll all be worked out. It is just not something that, you know, is going to have any lasting effect and I am not at all worried about it.

The relevant portion of the transcript from the CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall on February 23 can be found below.

CNN’s Democratic Presidential Town Hall 
February 23, 2016
9:37 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: You may not know, but the late-night comedians love you. They love you. They love to do things about you. Stephen Colbert had fun with an interview you had recently with Scott Pelley. You'll remember it. I want to play you a piece of it. 

STEPHEN COLBERT [on 02/19/16]: And something has emerged, something has just emerged. Just last night that is potentially damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign, and it's Hillary Clinton. It's true. Who has been dogged by questions of trustworthiness and here she is yesterday with our good friend, Scott Pelley. 

SCOTT PELLEY [on 02/18/16]: You know in '76, Jimmy Carter famously said, “I will not lie to you.”

HILLARY CLINTON [on 02/18/16]: Mmhmm. Well, I will tell you, I have tried in every way I know how, literally from my years as a young lawyer, all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.

PELLEY [on 02/18/16]: Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself “always tried to.” Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”

CLINTON [on 02/18/16]: You know, you're asking me to say, “have I ever?” I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will. I am going to do the best I can to level with the American people. 

COLBERT [on 02/19/16]: How can you be this bad at it? Just say no. Just say no. You're running for president of the United States. Even — even Richard Nixon knew to say, I am not a crook. He didn't say, it has always been my intention, as far as I believe, I will do the best I can not to be a crook. Will you lie is the home run of campaign questions. You just say no and touch all the bases. 

CUOMO: Funny guy, serious topic. Is that a question that you'd like another shot at answering? 

CLINTON: I'll just say, no.

CUOMO: You make Mr. Colbert very happy —

CLINTON: Good, good, I want to make him happy. 

CUOMO: — if you do that. You know the universe of thought this comes from. You've known it for a long time. You've dealt with it for a long time and many of us have watched it. Today, a federal judge, as you know, issued on a ruling on a motion that could pave the way for the possibility that you could be subpoenaed in order to obtain any information. Whatever the details of this latest case, it's what they call the drip, drip theory of this. It doesn't go away. What is your statement to Democrats who are afraid that this right, wrong, good, bad, it will not believe you in this race and may compromise you now and going forward? 

CLINTON: That there’s just no basis for that, Chris. You know, look, I'm well aware of the drip, drip, drip. I've been in the public arena for 25 years and have been the subject of a lot of ongoing attacks and misinformation and all the rest of it, but I can only tell you what the facts are and, you know, the facts are that every single time somebody has hurled these charges against me, which they have done, it's proved to be nothing and this is no different than that. You know, and I testified for 11 hours on the Benghazi Committee. People were really, oh my goodness, oh my goodness. I told the truth. I testified under oath and at the end, they had to say, there was nothing there. Here, I have turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails. Nobody in any cabinet position has ever been as transparent or open. I know there are, you know, challenges about what the State Department did or didn't do. That’ll all be worked out. It is just not something that, you know, is going to have any lasting effect and I am not at all worried about it.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center